I think its a combination of Howard always wanting to be in the "in" crowd to be able to hang with the cool kids and he finally got that - so now he will kiss ass all day to not lose that status. Also he is old, so age maybe catching up right in front of us over the last 7-8 years Marrying Beth also changed him, he wants to please her and secretly she is a bitch and hated all of the broads that woul come on the show - she probably was always giving him shit about it....I mean I could go on forever with Beth reasons. Losing/letting Jackie go hurt the material on the show. Losing Artie was like losing the last edgy part of the show. Interested in your thoughts.